As I roar down the home straight to achieving seventiness on the other side of summer, I have to make a dreadful admission.
I’m a biologist.
I’m a birder.
I keep lists, because, well LISTS! That’s what the above two groups do and anyway, I like lists.
But somehow I am not quite so consumed by the ticks as I once was … I will always keep lists because the good statisticians at eBird can do wonderful things with all that data and because it’s interesting to look back on what you have seen, but more and more often I get sidetracked by flowers and insects and other interesting things that live where the birds live. Age is destroying my inner nerd and need to compete … and now I have found I am not alone.
Well, I knew I was not alone but I was rather afraid to come out and say it because in birding circles if you are not obsessively LISTING rather than just jotting down comprehensive lists of what you have seen (see the difference?) you run the risk of being categorised amongst the “bird watchers” and, heaven forbid, the dreaded “Robin strokers” with their blue-rinse perms and diamanté spectacle frames. Shudder.
Anyway – no lesser a person than the Director of science communications for The Nature Conservancy (USA) has admitted to doing his birding these days rather like I have found myself doing in the past few years … please read his interesting post at the following link. I think I can relax now – old guys are allowed to do that.
A guide in Brazil’s Pantanal once told me that he had a group of birders who got impatient because he spent too much time showing them a jaguar. A jaguar. I lack that level of discipline and focus. I also would frankly rather see the jaguar.
The obsessive side of birding makes for entertaining reading, and even humorous movie material … I recall another outing with a local bird club, where I found myself in a car for a day with a guy who delivered a non-stop monologue, Rain Man style, on warbler identification. As he droned on about wing color variation, for two hours, I could understand why someone might want to take up golf instead.